PADUCAH, Ky. — April 13, 2012 —
Joey Saldana ended Friday’s roller-coaster ride with a smile on his face. The World of Outlaws veteran overcame a self-proclaimed “ugly” heat race to record his second victory of the season and first career at Paducah International Speedway – the Outlaws lone event in the state of Kentucky this season.
“In qualifying we went out and were really good, and then in the heat race we changed everything and were really bad,” he said. “Then we went back to the way we were in qualifying for the dash and we were respectable. And then we just worked off that and made our car 100 percent better for the feature, and it showed because when it counted we definitely had the car to pass. Our Weld Racing wheel equipped sprint car had the speed when it counted and luckily we had enough tire to finish the race.”
Saldana, who timed in fifth quick of the 29 cars, dropped from third to fifth in his heat race to snag the second-to-last transfer to the 30-lap main event. However, Saldana’s qualifying effort combined with advancing to the feature earned him a spot in the dash. Saldana started fifth and finished fourth, which is where he began the main event. A caution fell on lap 13 when Kemenah stopped in turn three with a flat right rear tire. Smith chose the bottom on the restart and it didn’t take long for Saldana to rocket into the lead when the green flag was waved. Saldana held a slight advantage at the flag stand and Smith drove hard into turn one, sliding up from the middle of the track. However, Saldana’s momentum in the high line propelled him into the lead for good as the duo exited turn two.
Saldana maintained the lead for the rest of the race and survived the closing laps. He finished with a little more than a one-second advantage as the top six were separated by less than four seconds.